The primary occupation of 90% of the rural population of the hilly regions of the Central Himalaya is agriculture. The cultivated land is the nucleus of village settlements and also a factor which leads to increases in the human and livestock populations in a positive feedback manner, taking over land from forests at an ever-increasing rate. These village anthropobiomes are centres of massive energy-consumption.
A detailed study was conducted on three villages, Khurpatal, Bhalutia, and Mehragaon, with a view to investigate (a) the energy efficiency of agriculture, (b) the viability of their agro-ecosystems, and (c) the viability of forest ecosystems at the current level of agricultural activity. The cropping systems are divisible into vegetable and wheat-based systems. Among different crop-combinations, wheat-soybean is characterized by the minimum energy input and potato-cabbage-potato by the maximum energy input in Khurpatal. Thus from an energetic point of view, wheat-soybean is the most efficient (output: input ratio = 12.03) cropping pattern. Among alternatives practised in the remaining two villages, the wheat—paddy combination of Bhalutia is the most efficient, having an output: input ratio of 1.35, and the wheat-maize and fallow-pulses systems of Mehragaon are the most inefficient, with an output: input ratio of, respectively, 0.55 and 0.18.